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Jeff Sessions
  Attorney General Confirmation Hearing Day 1 Part 3  CSPAN  January 10, 2017 4:13pm-6:04pm EST

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you can trust him because i found him to be that way in court. >> so you didn't know him personally but you did have interactions with him as a judge yourself. >> yes. as a judge. and of course, attorney general coming through the court all the time. and so i found him to be nothing -- i mean extremely honorable. >> well, thank you so much for calling and weighing in, especially since you had such close proximity. wayne there, calling from birmingham, alabama. taking your calls while we watch the nominee for attorney general come back into the room. as soon as they start the testimony we'll end our calls. want to try to get one more here, bruce from warwick, rhode island, independent. bruce, sorry we're going to have to have you turn down your tv there. we're going to get started though. looks like things are getting under way for the next round of
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questioning. >> -- it doesn't matter how many it is, i'm going to stay here as long as people want to ask questions because i haven't had my second round yet and if i could ascertain that, i would appreciate it. i know we have at least one or two republicans that want to. senator whitehouse, you go ahead. >> thank you, chairman. senator sessions, welcome back. as you know, the department of justice has at its heart the career prosecutor and attorney corps that staff it. on social media conservative bloggers are already arguing positioned that should be resigned because of positions they argued under attorneys general holder and lynch. one comment from the heritage foundation has made the comparison to filth within the department of justice and
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suggested that like the aegean stables, you need to run rivers through the department and wash out the agency from top to bottom. you yourself have criticized department attorneys for being secular. now, that was as recently as november. now, in rhode island, we have a long tradition back to roger williams of separating church hand state, and as an attorney general and as a u.s. attorney, we also have a tradition of allowing career attorneys to follow the policy dictates of other administrations and not holding the career people responsible for that. i'm wondering how you'll react to this. do you have a problem with career attorneys if they air private religious beliefs are secular ones? and will you support the career attorneys against the pressure from these right wing organizations seeking to wash them out like filth to
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paraphrase the heritage foundation? >> the department of justice is composed primarily of career professionals, as you know, senator whitehouse. you served there ably as united states attorney. and i give them the highest respect. most of those attorneys reach high standards and they are willing to follow lawful orders and directions from their superiors even if they might have a different philosophy. i do think it is often that they are put into non-career spots and can go back to career spots. but i don't know how exactly that works. but, sir, you would normally expect -- and i'm sure the bomb administration ma become obama administration made changes in the leadership of the department, putting people in positions they thought would be most advantageous to advance causes they believed in.
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that's sort of within the rules of the game. but to target people and to in any way demean them if they were fine public servants and they were following the law and carrying out a legitimate policy of their supervisors would be wrong. i think we should respect them. >> as a secular -- does a secular attorney have anything to fear from an attorney general sessions in the department of justice? >> well, no. and i use that word in the 90,000-foot level of -- a little concern i have that we as a nation i believe are reaching a level in which truth is not sufficiently respected, that the very ideal, the idea of truth is not believed to be real, and that all of life is just a matter of your perspective and my perspective which i think is contrary to the american heritage -- let's just say kind of a criticism. we are not a theocracy.
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nobody should be required to believe anything. i share thomas jefferson's words on the memorial over here, i swear eternal hostility over any domination of the mind of man. and i think we should respect people's views and not demand any kind of religious test for holding office. >> and a secular person has just as good a claim to understanding the truth as a person who is religious. correct? >> well, i'm not sure. in what thet momethod? >> the methods that an attorney would bring to bear. >> we're going to treat anybody with religious views fairly and objectively. trying to achieve the right solution to me is an important goal of the american juris prudential system.
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what is right, what is true and let's act on it and do the right thing. >> on the subject of what is truth, you may -- >> an age-old question. >> -- you may be in a position as attorney general to either enforce laws or bring actions that relate to the problem of carbon emissions and the changes that are taking place both physically and chemically in our atmosphere and oceans as a result of the flood of carbon emissions that we've had. it is the political position of the republican party in the senate, as i have seen it, that this is not a problem, that we don't need to do anything about it, that the facts aren't real, and that we should all do nothing whatsoever. that's the senate. you as attorney general of the united states may be asked to make decisions for our nation that require a factual predicate that you determine as the basis
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for making your decision. in making a decision about the facts of climate change, to whom will you turn? will you, for instance, trust the military? all of whose branches agree that climate change is a serious problem of real import for them? will you trust our national laboratories, all of whom say the same? will you trust our national science agencies -- by the way, nasa is driving a rover around on the surface of mars right now. so there are scientists i think who are pretty good. i don't think there is a single scientific society, i don't think there is a single accredited university, i don't think there is a single nation that denies this basic set of facts. and so if that situation is presented to you and you have to make a decision based on the
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facts, what can give us any assurance that you will make those facts based on real facts and real science? >> that's a good and fair question. and honesty and integrity in that process is required. and if the facts justify a position on one side or the other on a case, i would try to utilize those facts in an honest and appropriate way. i'm not -- i don't deny that we have global warming. in fact, the theory always struck me as plausible. and it is the question of how much is happening and what the reaction would be to it. so that's what i would hope we could see occur. >> indeed, i'll bet you dollars against those lovely krispy kreme doughnuts that we have out back that if you went down to the university of alabama and if you talked to the people who fish out of mobile, they'd already see the changes in the ocean, they'd be able to measure
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the ph changes and knows that acidification is happening and there would be no dispute about that -- except in the politics of washington, d.c. >> i recognize the great interest and time you've committed to the issue and i value your prn. opinion. >> i do come from an ocean state and we do measure the rice in the sea level and we measure the change of the bay and we measure the change of ph. it is serious for us, senator. thank you, my time is expired. >> now it looks like it will be senator from texas and senator from texas, i'm going to step out for a minute. when your eight minutes are up, would you call on senator klobuchar? >> sure. thank you, mr. chairman. senator sessions, i want to congratulate you on making it through a lengthy hearing and performing admirably. i think your performance today has reassured this committee and even more importantly has given comfort to the american people
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that you will be an attorney general who will faithfully apply the law without partiality, without partisan lens but with fidelity to the constitution and the laws of the united states. i also want to do something i don't do very often is i want to commend the democrats on this committee for, i think, showing admirable restraint. at the beginning of this hearing i had concerns that it would turn ugly with accusations that don't belong in this hearing. and i think my friends on the democratic side of the aisle have largely restrained from going down that road. i think that was the right decision to make. but i commend them for that. i would note that in the recesses of the internet and in some of the groups that are speaking on this nomination, and indeed in view of some of the protesters who have made their voices heard today, there have
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been racial charges raised, indeed some of the protesters have chanted "kkk." you and i have both talked about this a number of times. that is one of the easiest charges for someone to make when they don't have an argument on the merits, when they don't have the facts behind them. and it is a particularly hurtful argument that can be directed at someone, particularly when it is countered by the facts. and what i want to focus on principally in this round is spending a little bit of time highlighting an aspect of your record which is your involvement in the prosecution of henry hayes, a member of the ku klux klan. because i suspect it is something that very few people ever watching this hearing have ever heard of. and it is striking, and i think highly revealing. so i'd like to just walk through some of the facts. i know you are very familiar with them but i suspect some of the folks at home watching this
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hearing may not be. in 1981, in mobile, alabama, the ku klux klan ordered the murder of a random african-american man, michael duncan. kkk members henry hayes and james "tiger" knowles abducted 19-year-old african-american michael duncan. they beat him, they strangled him, they cut his throat and they hung him from a tree. absolutely shameful and disgraceful. you were u.s. attorney at the time. your office, along with the fbi, along with the local district attorney, investigated the murder. department of justice attorneys barry kowalski and burt glenn worked on the case. when asked about your work on this case, mr. glenn testified that, "during the entire course of the investigations, he," meaning sessions, "has provided unqualified support and
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cooperation to us, and independently as an individual who absolutely wanted to see that crime solved and prosecuted." is that accurate, senator sessions? >> i think it is, yes. that's exactly what i intended to do. it actually occurred before i became united states attorney. wrong group of people had been indicted in state court that complicated matters. the case was not making the kind of progress it needed to make. and so we had a discussion and we invited civil rights division attorneys, burt glenn and barry kowalski, both of which were exceptionally fine, and along with assistant thomas figures in my office, broke that case and i thought they deserved a great deal of credit. but i was with them, i was in the grand jury with them. i called the grand jury at their convenience whenever they wanted to come to the state. actually used and impanelled a
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special grand jury so they could be called when they desired it. it had already been called for another special purpose but we added to that their purpose so they had the flexibility. it was i thought a brilliantly conducted investigation. py guess bai guess barry kowals the lead attorney. >> barry eddie, testified, "without his," meaning sessions', "cooperation the state could not have proceeded against henry hayes. chris galanos, mobile county district attorney in 1981, stated, "we needed some horsepower which the feds through jeff sessions provided, specifically we needed the investigative power of the fbi and the power of the federal grand jury. i reached out to him, sessions, and he responded, "tell me what you need and you'll have it."
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and indeed your office prosecuted hayes' accomplice in federal court where he pleaded guilty. mr. eddie testified that tiger knowles, the accomplice, pled guilty on a civil rights violation and received a life sentence, the highest sentence he could receive under federal law. he continued to say henry hayes was tried if state court by mr. galanos' office and found guilty and sentenced to die in the electric chair. and this made hayes the first white man executed in alabama for murdering a black person since 1913. when you were the attorney of alabama, you later argued to uphold hayes' death penalty. in 1997, five months after you joined this body as a senator, hayes died in alabama's electric chair. i would note, not only that, not only did you assist in the
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prosecution of the face of evil, a ku klux klan murderer who saw ultimate justice, but as it so happened, you also prosecuted hayes' father, kkk grand titan benny jack hayes who ordered his son to kill an african-american and you prosecuted him for attempting to defraud his home insurer in order to collect money to pay for his son's legal defense. is that correct? >> that is correct. >> and beyond that, your office cooperated with morris dees and the southern poverty law center to bring a civil suit against the kkk and mr. galanos explained, "after the criminal cases were over, the southern poverty law center took the evidence we had developed and gave to them and they sued civilly and got a $7 million verdict on behalf of ms. donald.
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and the $7 million civil judgment against the kkk in alabama bankrupted the klan leading to its demise in the state." is that correct? >> that's essentially correct, yes. in fact, they sold the klan headquarters to help satisfy the judgment. >> well, i would say, senator sessions, it's easy for people reading things on the internet to believe whatever is raised and passions get hot. and i know the protesters who stand up and chant "kkk," they in all likelihood believe what they're saying because they are reading and being encouraged on the internet. but i have not seen any appointee to the cabinet, democrat or republican, who has a record like you do of prosecutining klansmen, putting them on death row, bankrupting them and putting them out of business. doing as you had, i admire you doing so. i'll issue a challenge to our friends in the news media. i noticed every time a protester jumped up, all the photographers
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took pictures of the protesters. i suspect we'll see them in all the papers. i would encourage the news media, cover this story. tell the story on the 6:00 news about jeff sessions helping prosecute a klansman who murdered an innocent african-american man and put him on death row and helped bankrupt the klan in alabama. that's the story that needs to be told. senator sessions, i thank you for your record, i thank you for your service. >> thank you, senator cruz. i would say, it has been very disappointing and painful to have it suggest that i think the klan was okay when we did everything possible to destroy and defeat and prosecute the klan members who were involved in this crime. it was a good joint effort. i was supportive of it tefr sev step of the way and some great lawyers worked very hard on it. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you very much, mr.
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chairman. senator sessions, just this week announced that it was taking down the adult services section of its website. senator cornyn and i led the bell on the judiciary committee. you contributed to it which we appreciate. then we also had work by senator portman and senator mccaskill and highkamp and others on this issue. we had 40 arrests alone where backpage was part of the operation. this is a good result, they took the fifth today in homeland security while you were testifying. but, i wanted to know what your plans would be. the justice department finally came out with the national strategy on sex trafficking which was part of our bill and so it will be in your manhands you are confirmed as attorney general to implement it. could you just give me your thoughts on this issue? >> i'm glad the entire nation seems to be giving priority to
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this. a lot of great people have given real focus to the problem to sex trafficking and degradation and destruction that results from it. so i think it would be a firm and important part of the department of justice's priorities and i would like forward to following up on the legislative successes and other things that are happening to see if we can't make a real impact against this abominable practice. >> i will say, attorney general lynch and the deputy attorney general yates as former prosecutors like yourself, they worked really hard in this area. so it would be worth talking to them about the work they've done as well. and i trust. senator lee and i have long chaired that committee. we rotate depending on who's in charge of the senate as ranking member. i care a lot about this. we're in the midst of a merger wave between 2010 and 2015, the number of mergers reported to the government increased over 50% from 716 to 1,801.
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over the last 18 months we've seen substantial mergers in pharmaceutical, agriculture, cable, insurance, beer. recently across the political spectrum, there's been a lot of concern about concentration, because you into ed to have an even playing field if competition is going to flourish and that means that's better for consumers if you have strong competition. will you commit to making vigorous anti-trust enforcement a priority, kind of a sideline to that, there is some concern based on some of the statements from the president-elect that maybe certain companies or industries could be targeted depending on if they're in favor or not. these are not statements that you have made. could you comment about independence of the attorney general when it comes to considering these cases? >> the antitrust policies of the
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united states have to be consistent and as clear as possible. as you know, that's not always easy as some people might think. i could say with confidence that you and senator lee as leaders on the antitrust subcommittee have been more attuned to the details and the special issues that are involved in that section of the department of justice. we would work resolutely on it. i have no hesitation to enforce antitrust law. i have no hesitation to find and justify to say that certain mergers should not occur and there will not be political influence in that process. >> thank you. i'm going to put a series of some other questions on the record. one is on synthetic drugs. we are working hard, senator grassley and i have long worked on this issue with senator
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feinstein and senator graham. we have a new bill that we're working on to make it easier to go after synthetic drugs and maybe on the record we could get your comments on that. drug courts, again, one of my top priorities. i think that they've worked very well in jurisdictions that are devoted to seeing themselves not just as businesses that want to see repeat customers but getting people off of the treadmill of crime and drugs. then a very minnesota-focused issue. minnesota was just -- got a designation called high-intensity drug trafficking. a lot of it is based on heroin and some of the opioid addictions. it was set up so that a lot of money came through wisconsin. if you know anything about the packers/vikings rivalry this makes our sheriffs very concerned. just on the record, i wanted to
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ask you some questions about making sure we get our due for the funding for minnesota. but the last thing i want to talk about was just the refugees issue. we have the biggest somali population in the country. our u.s. attorney general and the justice department have done an excellent job in taking on some isis cases as well as al shabaab cases. dozens of cases that have been successful prosecuted and we -- i know that work will continue. but what i am -- want that work to continue. we also have the vast majority of them are law abide, an important part of our community. as you know, there has been a lot of anti-muslim rhetoric out there. we had -- i heard the story in minneapolis of a family that went out to eat. they've lived from our town forever. they had two little kids. they go out to eat and this guy walks by and looks at them and says, you four, go home. you go home to where you came from. and the little girl looks up at
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her mom and she says, mom, i don't want to go home. you said we could eat out tonight. and you think of the words of that innocent child. she only knows one home and that's my state. she only knows one home. that's america. so a big part of the job of the attorney general to me is not just enforcing those laws as we have in our state against terrorist activities, but it is also protecting the innocence among us. i wonder if you could close your questions from me by commenting about your view of how you would uphold all of our nation's laws, the basic value of religious freedom. but also the protection of people from larger crimes than the remark i just talked about, but actually bullying and those kinds of things. because i just think it has no place in our country. >> thank you. that is an important principle that you've touched on, which is
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the principle that in america, you're free to exercise your religious beliefs as you deem fit, as long as it doesn't violate established law that would be important. so we have that provided for in the constitution. we can't establish a religion and we can't prohibit free exercise. and i believe, by and large, overwhelmingly americans value that principle and support it. we should always hold it high and we should not back away from it. that includes muslim friends and neighbors, as well as any other religion. and you are overwhelmingly there is not radical and violence among our muslim friends and neighbors and we should not ever think that and treat people in a discriminatory basis. when people apply to come to the country, it is appropriate, i believe, to vet them from countries that may have had a history of violence, to be
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careful about who we admit, because basically the admission process is a process to -- that should serve the national interest. that's sort of my view about it. i believe it is an acceptable and good view. and would try to carry that out. but the decision about admitting and not admitting is really not the attorney general's decision at all. it is the state department's and it is the policy of the president and the state department. we would just make sure if it is done, it is done in a proper fashion, not unlawfully. >> mr. chairman, i also have some statistics on immigration in response to the first exchanges that senator sessions and i had about what minnesota -- the business economic value of immigrants in our community. i'll just put that on the record later. so thank you. thank you.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. senator sessions, thanks to senator grassley and senator mcconnell, i now find myself as a member not only of this committee but also the intelligence committee for which i am grateful. one reason why i thought it was so important for another member of the senate judiciary committee to get on the intelligence committee is because while the intelligence committee conducts a lot of the oversight, it's the judiciary committee that confers the authorities on our intelligence officials and law enforcement officials to do what they do. my hope is that during this process where we're coming off of very contentious election, that our colleagues across the aisle will join us in making sure that the new president has his national security cabinet members, at least, confirmed on an expedited basis. of course, i would include the office of attorney general as one of those. as you know, the attorney general and the department's
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national security division work with members of the intelligence community and help oversee the collection of foreign intelligence information. i know earlier, senator leahy and perhaps senator lee asked you a little bit about the usa freedom act and the national security agency, but i want to highlight something you're well aware of, and that's the sun setting of section 702 of the foreign intelligence surveillance act. according to the privacy and civil liberties and oversight board which congress appropriately voted to oversee the activities of the intelligence community, section 702 which will expire at the end of this year has been responsible for disrupting more than 100 known terrorist plots, including the new york subway bomb plot in 2009, and other plots outside the united states. as i said, if we don't act by the end of the year, that authorities will expire.
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i think we are fortunate on the judiciary committee to also have, from addition to our other colleagues, senator feinstein who has, until recently, served as ranking member on the senate intelligence committee and now of course she's ranking here. i hope she, along with chairman grassley, will make sure that all of the committee members are thoroughly briefed and comfortable with the reauthorization of section 702 and to make it one of our highest priorities this year. in addition to section 702, as you know, there are other legal and policy challenges that you're going to face as the next attorney general. our national security investigators and law enforcement officers are facing incredible challenges. many of them technical challenges like growing encryption of communications
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whether it's hardware or software. we saw that being relevant to what happened in san bernardino where the fbi had to pay third parties a substantial amount of money to get at the communications contained in the telephones of the actors in the san bernardino attacks. or in garland, in my home state of texas, where the last time the fbi director came before this committee said there were still a multitude of communications on the devices of the two shooters in garland that they still had not been able to get access to. so the fbi director said this is part of the trade craft now of terrorists, and he referred to it as going dark. thankfully, chairman grassley held a hearing on that just this last year. we know there are other statutes, including the electronic communications privacy act, things like the electronic communications -- so-called ecter fix which would
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allow the use of national security letters to get ip addresses, not content, without a warrant. but ip addresses or meta data which is important to these national security investigations. i think i know the answer to this, but as attorney general, i just would like your verbal commitment here to continue to do what you have always done, and that's put the safety and security of the american people first, and you'll continue to work with us in a cooperative fashion to make sure that all the needs of all the stakeholders are being met, including the brave men and women who defend us each and every day in the intelligence and law enforcement community. will you do that? >> i will, senator cornyn. and thank you for your hard work and leadership on these important issues. >> let me ask you about the freedom of information act. i don't know whether senator grassley had a chance to ask you
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about this or not. as you may know, senator grassley and i are -- excuse me, leahy and i are kind of the odd couple on freedom of information act reforms. as a conservative, i've always felt that the best antidote to abuse or waste is sunlight, where possible. and you don't have to pass another law or another regulation where people change their behavior because they know people are watching. senator leahy and i have worked closely together to see a number of reforms passed and signed into law, many of which i know you have supported and consulted with us on. it's not a blank legislate. it's -- sometimes you have to be careful about disclosing information that ought not to be public information, or it is law enforcement sensitive or classified, or the like. but i just would hope that you would continue to work with us -- and i'm confident you
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wiwil will, but i just like your verbal commitment to continue to work to us to make sure the public's right to know is protected. not suggesting the public has a right to know everything, because, frankly, as i said, classified, law enforcement, sensitive information needs to be protected for important policy reasons. but will you continue to work with us to make sure that we protect the public's right to know to the extent feasible? >> i will, senator cornyn. i value your judgment and insight on it. it is an important issue and i appreciate your work. >> thank you. thanks, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. before i move on to my questions, i'd like to respond very briefly to what senator cruz said earlier. it is important, in my view, that the members of this committee get clarity with regard to the nominee's record. that's our job.
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and it is important. now let's be clear, senator sessions said in his questionnaire that he "personally handled four civil rights cases." some of the lawyers who worked on those cases disputed that characterization and senator sessions himself, after his questionnaire was in, felt a need to file a supplement in which he clarified that he merely provided "assistance and guidance" to civil rights division attorneys on these four cases. now if that's a distinction without a difference, i'm not sure why senator sessions felt the need to clarify but i want to move on. senator sessions, in late november, president-elect trump tweeted, "in addition to winning the electoral college in a landslide, i won the popular vote if you deduct the millions
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of people who voted illegally." now, let's be clear. president-elect trump lost the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes. so what he's saying here is that more than 2.8 fraudulent votes were cast. do you agree with president trump that millions of fraudulent votes were cast in the presidential election? >> senator franken, i don't know what the president-elect meant or was thinking when he made that comment or what facts he may have had to justify his statement. i would just say that every election needs to be managed closely and we need to ensure that there is integrity in it. i do believe we regularly have fraudulent activities occur during election cycles. >> well, department of justice is tasked with protecting voting rights and prosecuting fraud.
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so if millions upon millions of fraudulent votes were cast, i would imagine that the next attorney general would be quite concerned about that. does the president-elect tell yu anything about what caused him to come to this conclusion. >> i have not talked to him about that in any depth or particularly since the election. >> um-hum. so he didn't share any evidence of voter fraud with you because i would imagine as the man who wants to make responsible for combatting fraud at the bat dlol box that he would want to make sure that you had all the evidence necessary to take action and to protect the vote so he didn't do that evidently. before we move on, i should note for the record that state election and law enforcement officials surveyed in mid-december found virtually no credible reports of fraud among the nearly 138 million votes
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that were cast and those states reported indications of any widespread fraud. what's truly troubling about this, i believe are these bogus claims of voter fraud. they're routinely used to justify voter suppression and thanks to the supreme court's disastrously decided shelby county decision which gutted the voting rights act, it is easier than ever before for states to take -- make it harder for people to vote. now senator sessions you have a complicated history with a voters rights act. ten years ago when a voting rights you voted to reauthorize voting rights act. you have also called the voting rights act, quote, an intrusive piece of legislation. you have complained that the acts preclearance unfairly
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targeted certain states and you said, quote, there is little present day evidence that state and local officials restrict access to the franchise. you said that the voting rights act has eliminated that discrimination. well, senator, after the shelby county decision which you celebrated, states began testing the limits of what they could do and in many cases, citing the risk of so-called voter fraud as a justification for their actions. now that's what happened in north carolina, for example. just a few months after shelby county, the state enacted one of the nations strictest voter i.d. laws and enacted other restrictions without any evidence, the state described these changes necessary to prevent fraud. the court's disagreed. north carolina's restrictions were challenged and in july the fourth circuit found the primary purpose of the restrictions wasn't to fight fraud, but to
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make it harder for black people to vote. here's what the court said and i quote, the new provisions target african-americans with almost surgical precision. they constitute inept remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose curiouser problems that did not exist. senator, do you still believe that there is little present day evidence of state esrestricting access to the franchise and if you do, what do you think the fourth circuit got wrong when it found that north carolina targeted black voters with almost surgical precision, do you accept that north carolina was targeting african-american voters but not he have believe that it was engaging in
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discriminatory conduct? >> well, you cannot create laws designed to inhibit the right of any class of citizens to vote and so if the fourth circuit found that and there's a factual basis to support it, then any law that's passed would be subject to being either eliminated or altered. so i support your concern that laws of this kind cannot be used for that purpose. i do believe not long ago the supreme court did uphold voter i.d. laws but there are ways to do it and ways probably you cannot do it. so i am not familiar with the details of the north carolina law, but you are correct. any finding that's sustainable that there's a racial animus in the passing of a law that would
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restrict voting that law could be unsustainable. >> now north carolina's one of the states that would have been covered by preclearance, was it not? >> north carolina states would be. >> it would have been so in other words. >> i would just suggest that section 2 allows all the remedies and that's what i suppose they filed the action under in this case, it just not a preclearance question and that preclearance policy is intrusive as the supreme court has said and i didn't mean that in any pe jurortive way. i was asked do you believe it's intrusive is that correct, it's 1986 but the voting rights act was absolutely essential to address the problems that we had in the south. >> mr. chairman, let me just respond to that please.
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okay. here's the thing. >> well -- >> because we had this debate of after shelby and chairman leahy tried to introduce something of substance so we could have preclearance again which was fought by you. the whole point is a section -- section 2 of the voting rights act, you're right, but how many years after north carolina did that so how many times -- how many elections were conducted in north carolina where african-americans votes were suppressed? that's why you need preclearance and as soon as shelby came down, you saw texas, north carolina go, oh, good.
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now we can suppress votes. that is the reason you have preclearance and that is the reason that you can't rely on the district court or the circuit courts to rule. >> [ inaudible ] >> mr. chairman i voted a few years ago for the voting rights act extension for 25 years. it included preclearance in it. we all knew at that time that supreme court would probably take up a case before long that would have wrestled with the question of whether there's a sufficient basis for the extraordinary remedy of requiring only a few states in the country to have every even minsterial act like moving a voting precinct to seek the permission of the department of justice first. the supreme court found that
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that no longer could be justified. the supreme court decided that we should not have -- did not have to have preclearance but section 2 of the voting rights act allows these kind of challenges that senator franken is talking about. that's what was brought in north carolina and the court there did, in fact, find that the voter i.d. law was improper as i understand it. so i believe we've proceeded in a lawful fashion and i did feel in one sense that it was a good feeling that the supreme court had concluded there had been substantial improvement in our area of the country, the south of the country in voting rights sufficient that section 5 could no longer be sufd. but i voted for it. >> thank you, mr. chairman for your indulgence. as justice ginsberg said when an
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umbrella means you don't get wet when it's raining then you don't take the umbrella away. >> the letter that i just today received in support of senator sessions nomination from the national shooting sports foundation. senator sass without objection i should say. >> senator sessions i'd like to talk about the sarah root case. i know that you and i have discussed it briefly last summer. sarah root was a woman who was killed a year ago this month in omaha. she had just graduated from college and she was killed by a drunken street racer. omaha authorities believe that this guy had been engaged in similar activities many times in the past. he was an illegal immigrant, ran into her car, killed right after her graduation. he was detained. they ultimately notified homeland security that he was a
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flight risk. he was able to post a insignificant bond and he disappeared. homeland security did nothing to retain the guy. the obama administration determined that it wasn't an enforcement priority. i don't want to hold you to specifics on this case here, but i want to get your pledge in this context, i want to hear you talk generally about the coordination between state and local law enforcement on illegal immigration activities and in particular where serious crimes have been committed. i want to know if you'll pledge now would you give expedite dishs attention. >> i certainly will it does represent important failures that we're seeing too often in our system today. >> do you have any top line thoughts nt way, local and state
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officials interact with federal officials on immigration cases? >> well the immigration enforcement procedures, the courts have held are exclusively the power of the federal government but it's also clear that a state official has the right to arrest somebody for the offense of crossing the border illegally. they have the right to arrest people who have entered the country illegally or repeatedly entered the country illegal for any kind of offense including the offense of reentering illegally and the cooperative system should work in a way that the federal government then evaluates whether or not they want to put a hold on and ordered not to release that person until they can take them and see them be deported. in its failing in a whole number of ways. you got the sanctuary cities who
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refuse to tell homeland security that they've got somebody that's committed a serious crime so they can be deported. they refuse to honor detainers. on the other side we've got homeland security too often having standards or failing to follow-up on serious offenses of people who should be deported. so in both aspects, i think senator sasse we can do much better. if this country has every right to deport persons who are here unlawfully who violate our criminal laws and some other aspect and they should indeed be promptly deported. >> thank you. we'll follow-up with a letter because this guy who killed sarah root it was obvious to everybody engaged locally, lots of law enforcement and the family who's daughter was killed that this guy was a flight risk and everyone was screaming to the feds please don't let this guy disappear before he can stand trial. he's now in the top ten most
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wanted list and nobody thinks he's ever going to be found. everybody believes he left the country and this case isn't an isolated case. it's a handoff between federal and local law enforcement that could happen repeatedly if you don't have a federal government that has a clear policy. i would like to send you a letter right after your confirmation asking for clarity about discretion actions are prioritize. >> and senator sasse i would note that fundmently they'll be a homeland security issue initially and they need to set the standards of what they should and should not do and i would think that general keller would be happy to talk to you. >> so thank you. completely different line of questioning. this morning you were asked some hard and appropriate questions about the responsibility of a chief law enforcement officer for the federal government when -- if there are cases where
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there might be a conflict between your oath of office to the constitution of limited government and separation of executive and legislative authority and the people that you report to when you work inside an administration. you said in the course of that answer that there could ultimately be cases where someone might have to resign because they were being forced to do something that conflicted with their oath. i wonder if you can unpack that a little bit and talk about the justice department's responsibilities and attorney general's past over the past few decades, can you name instances where a resignation might be in order and what kinds of lines would you envision being crossed in ways that you as the attorney general might push back on an administration if asked to do things that you regarded as inconsistent with your oath to the constitution? >> it would be difficult to speculate that on that. we saw that in the nixon administration but there could
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clearly be a circumstance in which there's such a relationship breech that an attorney general wouldn't be an effective member of presence administration. maybe the executive -- chief executive could even be correct and the attorney general could be wrong. if the attorney general's duty is to give the best judgment that the attorney general can give and therefore if it's rejected on a very fundamental area, then that causes great concern. maybe in another area of less importance, you could afford to disagree. but i just think that that result should be very rare, has not happened very often in the history of this country. i only know of one and therefore the reason is that usually the chief executive's and i would expect with president trump that when confronted or advised that
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certain policies are not accept hable would accept that advice. i'm confident that he would but you raise a hypothetical and i've given you my thoughts about it -- if the assistant attorney general from olc was coming to you and saying i've been asked to try to justify a certain position, i've been asked to write a memo to support this position and i don't think we can get there, i don't think think that the department of justice is considered wisdom inside into the law is that we can ultimately right the memo that we will authorize serb actions how do you as the attorney general envision that conversation going, just tell us the parts between an olc, attorney general's office and the white house.
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>> attorney general macazi, he issued a memorandum about how the communications could be effectively carried out and it restricted communications from the political officials to the justice department in a way that guaranteed integrity but there's nothing wrong as i understand it for through the proper chain of command that a request on olc opinion on a certain subject. there's nothing wrong with the white house asking for that, indeed you want that. you don't want the white house acting, you want them to seek legal advice and generally historically things get sort of worked out. if olc comes back and says mr. president you can do this but not this way. maybe you can do it that way, but that's safe, that's legal,
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that's within the realm of action that the president can take. this we believe is not and usually having attorney general who has the confidence of the president, which is part of good advice advising what he cannot do is the way that's historically resulted. and you need the best lawyers and you need to be very careful because these things set precedence, they also can result in lawsuits and all kinds of controversy that should not happen as a result of a bad olc opinion. >> thank you. the ste wardship of the integrity of that office is important. >> thank you, chairman. senator sessions, to return to an issue of number of senators asked about before but i just want to get clarity about a
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particular concern i had. the intelligence community has issued a unanimous opinion with high confidence that at the highest levels the russian government engaged in an organized cyber attack that was designed to influence the american elections. and it is as you've mentioned before, emblematic of the problems we've faced and you mentioned in response to a previous question you haven't been fully briefed on this but there is a bipartisan bill that's been introduced to strengthen and sustain sanctions against russia for this attack on our democracy. is that something you would support? >> that is something that's appropriate for congress and the chief executive to consider. in other words, how do you respond to what's believed to beer -- cyber attack from a
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major nation. it's difficult to say we're going to prosecute the head of the kgb or some group that's participated in it, no longer a kgb, of course, so in many ways the political response, international foreign policy response may be the only recourse and it would help in that light that more clarity be established which you probably understand more than i the discussions about having the world know that if you do "x" to us you can expect we're going to do "y" to you. >> i think this bipartisan bill is designed to be a forceful response to provide predictable preemgs of other countries that might believe that they could engage in a successful cyber attack to influence future elections whether at the federal local level. so i urge you to get briefed up on it as all senators can now and to have a clear public
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stance on it. let me move to immigration if i might. alabama had a state statute that forced its schools to check students immigration status before allowing them to enroll in school. rul concerned at all that that statute might target innocent children and discourage school attendance for juveniles. >> first i had no involvement in that statute, secondly i believe the court struck that statute down? i'm not sure. >> i believe that's correct. >> some of that was declared improper and some not. but what was your question exactly? >> there was a statute in alabama that was designed to require teachers school z-efrs to check the immigration status of students before enrolling them and i believe at that point five years ago you made a public statement that we've allowed a sad situation for decades where
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large numbers of people are in this country illegally and it's going to have unpleasant and unfortunate consequences. some took that to mean that you felt that it was an unfortunate consequence but appropriate that children who were brought here i will why lily -- illegally. >> they cannot be denied access to education, the court's have decided that as i understand it. the question is could you even ask if you're lawfully in the country or not and i don't know what the law is on that subject. but what i was getting at that this is a continual problem and will continue to be a problem if we don't end the lawlessness. you'd rather have children here that were brought here legally. i believe it is within our grasp
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to fix and i believe people he of good will support that and will need to get that done and a lot of problems in our country will be fixed and a lot of our ability to it create a more harmonious system in the future could become possible once this illegal system is fixed. >> as you know, senator, on this committee together many of us worked put great effort into crafting a bill that ultimately passed the senate by a strong bipartisan margin, would have invested in securing the border and addressed a lot of unresolved issues in immigration. my recollection is you did not support that bill. it is my hope that we can find a bill that you can support. we worked together to restore funding to the federal public defenders service when it was cut and i think that's because we both agree that outcomes are more fair when there's effective
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representation on both sides. one of the amendments i offered to that would have provided counsel to children who were applying for refugee status because they were fleeing violence in their home country. is that something you would support? >> senator coons, that you cannot provide all lawyers to illegal entrance into the country and i don't believe it makes a distinguish -- distinguishes between minors and adults but i may be wrong about that. i presume that's why you've offered legislation to that effect but in general, i do not believe we can afford nor should we try to take to provide free lawyers for everybody that enters the country unlawfully. i think that would be a massive undertaking, so you're talking about children specifically.
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i understand that. >> specifically those who are applying for asylum. let me ask you another question if i might, there's been -- there was a lot of discussion in the course of the campaign, it was a very vigorous campaign about the role of immigrants and in particular muslims in this country. and i just want to make sure i've understood this. you believe it's improper for the government to discriminate based solely on a person's religion, correct. >> that's incorrect. i believe that religion as practiced by and understood by an individual could make that individual subject to being denied admission if that individual's practice of their religion would present a threat to the country. so we have no requirement to it admit somebody who claims to be religious who would present a threat to the united states and i strongly think we have every right to inquiry into the those
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kind of radical and dangerous ideas that some might suspect. >> there's about 3 million muslim in the united states today. there have been muslims in america since it's founding. would you support a national registry of muslims and what sort of surveillance of mosques would be appropriate for the restraints of free exercise. >> i would not favor a registry of muslims in the united states, no i would not. and i think we should avoid surveillance of religious institutions unless there is a reason to believe that threatening activity could be carried on there. i'm not aware that there's a legal prohibition on that on the current law. >> let me ask a last question as i might, as alabama's attorney general, this is back in 1996 there was a conference planned at the university of alabama and
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this was for lgbt students, conference to talk about a wide range of issues from health to status in society for the lgbt community. and based on a state law, you sought to prevent that conference from happening. and a federal district court held that the existing state statute, that prevented gatherings in public buildings for the advocacy of sodmy and sexual misconduct, the district court held that that clearly violated the first amendment, the free speech rights of students to gather and talk about their lives and you publicly announced that you intended to do everything you could to stop that conference and i believe sought an injunction which was later denied in the 11th circuit later held that this law was unconstitutional on its face. would you think looking back on
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this now, given your statement earlier that you understood the needs for justice of the lmpgs gbtq community that it was a poor use of state resources to defend a law that was so unconstitutional? >>. [ inaudible ] senator coons, that statute, the litigation started in another university before i became attorney general. it was going on for about a year and i believe the litigation arose from the group following a declaratory judgment against the law and as attorney general i felt that i should attempt to defend the law and the court ruled against it. and it would have been better if we hadn't passed the law. it would have been better the controversy had not occurred. >> before i go to -- i have a
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letter here from a former colleague and in that letter he makes an important point, two sentences i'd like to repeat, do i agree with everything he, meaning senator sessions has ever said or done? of course not. but i don't agree with everything anyone i know has ever said and done including myself. if i were in the senate today, i would vote aye on his nomination. i ask that that go in the record. >> thank you chairman. one issue that's been gone over a lot today which i'm going to return to is the question of the rule of law and whether you would honor it many times an administration will not agree with a particular statute, even though the language and intent of congress were chris tal clear and many times the individual who has been appointed to enforce the laws doesn't personally enforce -- yet as
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attorney general it will be your job to enforce and defend the laws as written by the legislative branch regardless of your own personal philosophical views. and i know that you've done this. let me talk about a few examples. even though you support the death penalty, you agree to drop the death sophisticates a defendant when you determined that the aggravating circumstances standard in the statute for applying the death penalty didn't apply to their particular convicted double murder. even though you had supported a republican governor when you were alabama's attorney general when this governor violated the ethics law, you agreed and argued to uphold his conviction. again, when you were the alabama attorney general, you declined to prosecute a former alabama insurance commissioner who was a democrat, even though you received criticism for this.
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you didn't prosecute because you believed there was actually a criminal -- there wasn't actually a criminal violation. you also prosecuted the alabama republican party vice chairman even though you were from the same party. so it seems to me that your history shows that you can make those kinds of judgment calls and do what the job demands. i already know the answer to this question because i've seen it in your record and because i've known and worked with you for a number of years but i ask any way, again, if you're confirmed will you commit to enforce and defend the laws of the constitution of the united states regardless of your personal and philosophical views on the matter. >> i will, senator crapo and i would note on the death penalty case, my appealat lawyers gave a little briefing of the cases that were coming up and they said we'll be defending this death case but we're probably going to lose. i said why are we going to lose and they said it didn't have the
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aggravating factor you needed to carry out a death penalty. and i said we can't go before the supreme court and argue for a death penalty if it doesn't meet the standard for death penalty to which the lawyer said, well, the local people are really fired up about it and we usually just do what they want. and let the court decide. i said, no we shouldn't do that. well that turned out to be an easy decision to make that day but when i was running for the united states senate, a few -- maybe a year later, i became one of the biggest ads and biggest attacks on me that i failed to defend a jury conviction for murder in this county. you have to do the right thing and some of these other cases reflect the same thing indeed. this insurance commissioner, the case was taken by the governor's team to the state d.a. who
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prosecutored the case and convicted the man but it was reversed on appeal that he didn't commit a crime just like we had concluded originally, so these are tough calls, sometimes i've not always made them right, but i do believe you have to put the law first under crapo and i have tried to do that, tried to teach my people that and none of us are perfect, but we should strive to get it right every time. >> thank you, jeff. and i knew that answer as i said before i asked the question. but one of the other senators here today said it's important to get your record out and i think it is important to get your record correctly understood. and i think that they're unfortunately is too much inaccurate reporting about your record. another instance in that context, as you know, i am the republican sponsor of the violence against women act that we passed recently here in the u.s., senate and the congress.
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you've been criticized for not supporting that act. but i want to give you a chance again to correct the record and to fully state the record. if i understand right you voted for the original and supported the reauthorization of that act at least twice and that your objection to the act that did pass this last time, the reauthorization, was not at all based on the question of whether to have the statute in place, it was instead bafld on an issue with regard to jurisdiction on tribal lands and other related matters. could you again restate your position on the issue? >> thank you. i came here as a lawyer, tried to conduct myself properly and consider what some might consider legal technical kalts but i think are pretty important. the bill as i understood it was controversial primarily because
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of this situation in which on a nontribal member could be tried in a tribal court which apparently i think is fair to say is not constructed in a way that's consistent with the constitution and that we have never done this before and so eight of the nine republicans on the judiciary committee concluded that this was not appropriate. so by voting against that version of the violence against women act, if it had failed we would not then, i'm confident, not had a bill, we would have been able to pass a violence against women act that didn't have that provision in it. so that's sort of where we were in the political process and one of the bad things about modern american politics is, if you take that position, you're not portrayed as being wrong on the tribal issue or portrayed as being against a bill against
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women. >> i appreciate that and i can again confirm because as i said, i am the republican sponsor of that bill and that description you have given is exactly of one of just a couple issues which were being seriously litigated if you will here in which we were trying to resolve. and those of you who took that position, again, we're not in any way objecting to the act. you had multiple times before supported it. and you were trying to help resolve one specific issue on the bill so i wanted to clarify that with you and again get the record straight about where you stand on the issue. >> i see my time's pretty much gone, mar. chairman. i won't go to my next question. >> call on senator blumenthal out of consideration for you, i want to explain what i think we have left here and if you need a break, tell me.
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we've got two democrats and two republicans to do a second round be sides the chairman but i'm going to wait until later to do my second round. we got two democrats i've been told at least want a third round so what you would luke to do is, first of all, if you nood a brauk wool take a break whenever you say so now and in the meantime i'd like to have my colleagues take into consideration something i want to do. i will want everybody to get over here that wants to ask questions and i'm not going to take up anybody's time until everybody else is done and then i will want to take about maybe 15 or 20 minutes of your time to do the equivalent of a couple rounds with questions i will haven't asked yet. so what's your desire? >> i'm ready to go. >> oh, okay. >> i may need a break at some
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point. >> you just say when you want to take a break. >> thank you. thank you. >> senator blumenthal, thank you senator sessions. i was pleased to hear you dis-vow and dis-announce operation rescue. i want to ask about a couple other groups and individuals. in 2003 at an event called restoration weekend you gave a speech praising a man named david har wits as a man, quote, a man i admire. david horowitz has said among other things that quote, all the major muslim organizations in america are connected to the muslim brotherhood and quote 80% of the mosques are filled with hate against jews in americans. he's also made a number of statements about african-americans as in, quote, too many blacks are in prison
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because too many blacks commit crimes. you praised him as a man i admire. that statement was omitted from your response to the committee. did you omit it because you were embarrassed about praising david horowitz? >> no and i didn't know david horowitz had made those comments. i read his book but it was his transformation having grown up in a as he described it, communist family. he was editor of ramparts magazine the radical magazine and i believe radical son was the name of his book and it was a really powerful and moving story of how he moved from the unprincipled toe tail tearion radical left to a more
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traditional american person. >> i find. >> i read a number of other books, i've read one of them, but he's the most brilliant individual and has remarkable story i'm not aware of everything he's ever said or -- >> these statements have been reported publicly over a number of years. you received an award from the david horowitz freedom center in 2014. you were unaware of any of the apparently racist comments that he made -- >> i'm not aware of those comments and i don't believe david horowitz is a racist or a person that would treat anybody improperly at least to my knowledge. they already gave -- award he gave me was the aenlt johnson award and that was the lady that went over niagara falls in the
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barrel that's the award i received. >> let me ask you about another group which also you left out of your questionnaire, a group that the southern poverty law center cited earlier by senator cruz listed as a hate group and you received from the federation for fair immigration award an aaward known as the frank lin society award the founder of that group has said, quote, i've come to the point of view that for european american society and cultured to persist requires a superen american majority and a clear one at that. he said he also, quote, too much diversity leads to divisiveness and conflict. the founder also through his political action committed -- contributed twice to your campaigns in 2008 and 2014,
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$1,000 in each donation. will you dethose statements and dis-avow that support and those supports. >> i don't accept that statement. i believe the united states should have an immigration policy that's fair and objective and gives people from all over the world the right to apply and those who have should give preference to people who have the ability to be prosperous and succeed in america and improve their lives and improve the united states of america and that's sort of my view of it. i do not accept that kind of language. >> will you return the award? >> it's contrary to my understanding of america vision of life. >> will you return the award? >> i don't know who -- whether he had any involvement in choosing the award or not and
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presumably the award and the contributions that i did not even know -- i don't recall -- ever knowing i got are his decision not mine. >> this award similarly was left out of your response to the questionnaire and i guess the question, senator sessions, is how can americans have confidence that you're going to enforce antidiscrimination laws if you've accepted awards from these kinds of groups and associated with these kinds of individuals and you won't return the awards? >> well, first of all, i don't know that i defer to the southern poverty law center as the final authority on who's a radical group, so i would first challenge that. they acknowledged publicly and have in the last few weeks that
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i was a strong sister to them in prosecuting the klan but they said they opposed me on immigration. i believe my views on immigration are correct, justice, decent and right. somebody else can disagree, but that's what i think. >> would you also dis-vow support from frank gaffney the center for security policy that gave you an award in august of 2015 similarly having made statements about muslims and supporting your candidacy for attorney general? >> well, they chose to give me the award, they didn't tell me what they gave it to me for. and i don't adopt everything that that center would support. i don't suppose. i'm pretty independent about those things. >> you can understand. >> i would acknowledge that ronald, reagan, joe leeber man also have received that award
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from that institution. >> he hasn't been nominated the attorney general. >> well, he has not. he's vice president on your party. >> and the people of the united states might be forgiven for concluding that the kinds of attitudes and the zealousness or lack of it that you bring to enforcement of antidiscrimination laws might be reflected in your acceptance of awards from these organizations, your association with these kinds of individuals so i'm giving you the opportunity to completely repudiate and return those awards. >> senator blumenthal, i just feel like the reason i was pushing back is because i don't feel like it's right to judge me and require that i give back an award if i don't agree with everything policy of an organization that gave the award. i was honored to be given awards. a lot of prominent people i'm
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sure have received awards at either one of these groups and david horowitz is a brilliant writer and i think has contributed to the policy debate. whether everything he says i'm sure i don't agree with. some of the language that you've indicated does not -- i'm not comfortable with and i think it's it all right to ask that question but i just would believe it would be more than -- it wouldn't be proper for you to insist that i'm somehow disqualified for attorney general because i accept an award of that have group. >> given that you did not disclose a number of those awards, are there any other awards from groups that have similar kinds of idealogical negative views of immigrants or of african-americans or muslims or others including awards that you may have received from the
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ku klux klan? >> well, i wouldn't receive it from henry hayes, i'll tell you that. he no longer exists. no i wouldn't accept an award from the klan. i would just say that i received hundreds of awards. i don't think i'm probably somehow should have made sure that anti-johnson jumping off the niagara falls i should have reported that. probably. so i would just say to you, i have no motive in the denying that i received those rewards. probably publicly published when it happened and i received multiple hundreds of awards over my career as i'm sure you have. >> my time is expired, mr. chairman. i apologize and i'll return on the third round.
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thank you. >> i don't find any fault with any of this somebody that's in the united states senate ought to remember what awards they get. i'll bet every other week somebody's given me some award and you take these plaques or whatever you give them and you don't even have a place to hang them you store them someplace. if i went down to storage place i could tell you all the awards i got. i don't need any more awards. it's kind of a problem that they give you the awards. obviously i'll bet senator sessions feels that way right now. >> i don't differ with you, mr. chairman. i don't differ with you that sitting here none of us on this side of the table could probably recall every single award we've ever received, but the questionnaire from this committee asked for the information as to all awards and
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i think it's fair to observe that a number of these awards were omitted from the responses. >> okay. well, if somebody asked me to fill out that same questionnaire it would never be complete and i don't know how you could ever make it complete. before i go to you, i have a statement here from minority leader he says, i know him, meaning senator sessions, personally and all of my encounters with him have been for the greater good of alabama, we spoken about everything from civil rights to race relations and we agree that as a christian man of our hearts and minds, our folks on doing right by all people and i don't think we should forget that senator sessions got re-elected to the united states senate without a primary opponent or a general
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election opponent. wouldn't we all like to do that? senator graham. >> i've been unable to do that. >> for the record without any -- i had six primary opponents. >> i can understand why. >> there you go. i'll probably have ten next time. >> i too received the annie taylor award. i get it too. i don't get enough awards. you can speak for yourself. i got the award, i went to the dinner and chris matthews interviewed me. i don't know what that means other than i'll do almost anything for a free dinner. i like senator blumenthal, we did this whole guilt by association stuff. you've been around 15 years. >> 20. >> 15 with me. i'm pretty sure you're not a
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closet big ots and i got the same awards you did. that other award, who got it, joe leeberman. >> he got the award of the gaffney. >> any way, all i can tell you is that this whole idea that if you receive recognition from some group, you own everything they've ever done or said, is probably not fair to any of us and we can go through all of our records about donations, the bottom line is, senator sessions, there's no doubt in my mind that you're one of the most fair, decent, honest man i've ever met. and you know what i like most about you, if you're the only person in the room who believes it, you will stay up and say so. i have seen you speak out when you were the only guy who believed what you believed so i admire the heck by that. so if i get nominated by trump which i think will come when
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hell comes, i'm here to tell you that i got the annie taylor award too. i think you were asked about the indefinite detention. sandra day o'connrz quote. there's no bar to this nation holding one of its own citizens as an enemy combat ant. that case involved a u.s. citizen that was captured in afghanistan and was held as an enemy combatant. >> generally, yes. not as familiar as you. >> well this has been a military -- sort of part of what i did. do your constitutional rights as a u.s. citizen stop at the nation shores or do they follow you wherever you go? >> you have certain rights wherever you go. >> so if you go to paris, you don't give up your fourth amendment right against illegal search and seizure. could the fbi break into your
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hotel room in paris and basically search your room without a warrant? >> i don't believe. >> they can't. your constitutional rights attached to you. so if the people who say he was in afghanistan, that doesn't matter. what the court is telling us, no american citizen has a constitutional right to join the enemy at a time of war. that case involved german who landed in long island, are you familiar with this. >> i'm very familiar with that case. i have read it. >> they were germany sabatures and had american citizen contact in the united states they were all seized and tried by the military. the law is well settled here, that a united states citizen and other wars have been held as enemy combatants when the enemy suggest they collaborated with the enemy.
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under the current law, if you're suspected of being an enemy combatant within a certain period of time the government has to present you to the federal judge and prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you're a member of the organization they claim you to be a member of. are you familiar with that? >> yes. correct, yes. >> how long an enemy combatant can be held, people are taken off the battlefield until the war is over. does that make sense to you? >> that does make sense and that is my understanding of the law of war. >> and the law of war is to win the war, the laws around the law of war are describigned to dealh conflicts. there's no requirement like domestic criminal law at a certain point in time they have to be presented for trial. the goal of the law of war is to protect the nation and make sure you win the war.
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so when you capture someone who's been adjust indicated there is no concept in military law or the law of war that you have to release them at an arbitrary date because that would make no sense. so all i'm saying is that i think you're on solid ground. >> when do you think this war will be over, do you think we'll know when it's over? i asked a number of witnesses in armed services so it's pretty clear we're talking about decades before we have a complete alt ter rags of this spasm or in the middle east that just seems to have legs and will continue for sometime that's most likely what would happen. >> you're about to embark on a
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very important job in an important time. we work with the congress to come up with a legal regime that recognizes that gathering intelligence is the most important activity in the law -- against radical islamic. the goal is to find out what they know, do you agree with that? >> it's a critical goal. >> and i have found that under military law and military intelligence gathering, no manual i've ever read suggested that reading miranda rights is the best way to gather information. as a matter of fact, i've been involved in this business for 33 years and if a commander came to me as a jag and said we just captured somebody on the battlefield they want their rights read to them. i would tell them they're not entitled to miranda rights. they're entitled to the gentleman neefla convention treatment and humane treatment, they're required with all the
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things of geneva protection convictions. we're at war. i'm encouraged to hear that the new attorney general recognizes the difference between fighting a crime and fighting a war and that the next time we capture bin laden's son-in-law if he's got any more, i hope we don't read him his miranda rights in two weeks. i hope we keep him humanely as long as necessary to interrogate him to find out what the enemy may be up to. does that make sense to you? >> well, it does. we didn't give miranda warnings to german and japanese prisoners we captured and it's never been part -- and so there being a detained and subject to being interrogated properly and lawfully any time, any day and
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that the not entitled to a lawyer. >> right. miranda didn't exist back in world war ii but it does now, but the -- this is very important. that you do not have to read and enemy kbatant the miranda right. they do have a right -- you can hold it as long as necessary for intelligence gathering and you can try them in article 3 courts. as attorney general of the united states, would you accept that military commissions could be the proper venue under certain circumstances for a terrorist? >> yes. >> thank you. >>. [ inaudible ] >> senator ken dill and then you should take a break, because i want one. >> proceed. >> thank you. >> senator sessions, in 1944 the supreme court handed down what
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is considered one of the worst rulings in the history of our country and that case is corey mat sue versus united states which upheld the constitutional of internment of japanese americans in internment camps. despite the near universal con dem nation today a pro-trump super pac and surrogate cited as president dent for a program that would require muslims in the united states to register with the government. here are my questions. first, would you support such a registry for muslim americans, in other words, u.s. citizens? >> i do not believe we need a registration program for u.s. citizens who happened to be muslim, is that the question? >> my question is whether you would support such a registry for u.s. citizens who happened
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to be muslims? >> no. >> thank you. so since the president may go in that direction, what kind of constitutional problems problem there be for u.s. citizens who happen to be muslims to be required to register? >> well, my understanding is as i recall, the later comments by president-elect trump do not advocate for that registration but he will have to speak for himself on his policies but i don't think that's accurate at this point as his last stated position on it. >> since you don't support such a registry for u.s. citizen muslims, is that because you think there are some constitutional issues involved with such a requirement for u.s. citizen muslims? >> it would raise serious constitutional problems because
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the constitution explicitly guarantees the right to free exercise of religion and i believe americans overwhelmingly honor that and should continue to honor it, and it would include muslims for sure and i don't believe they should be treated differently fundamental fundamentally. should not be treated differently. >> in addition to freedom of religion provisions, perhaps there would be some equal protection constitutional problems, possibly some procedural due process constitutional problems with that kind of registry requirement. turning to consent decrees, there are more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the united states. america's police officers are the best in the world and that is due in large part to their bravery, skill and integrity in what they do. our constitution ensures that the government is responsible to its citizens and that certain
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rights should not be violated by the government, but that does not mean that things always work perfectly as you noted in one of your responses in the real world. so while the vast majority of police officers do exemplary work and build strong relationships with their communities to keep the public safe, there have been specific use of force deadly incidents that have sparked nationwide outrage. some of these incidents have led the attorney general civil rights division to do investigations into whether individual police departments have a quote unquote, pattern of practice, unquote, of unconstitutional policing and to make sure police departments are compliant with the law and when these investigations find that police departments are engaged in unconstitutional policing, they are frequently resolved through consent decrees with the department of justice. which requires police departments to undertake certain
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important reforms that are overseen by independent monitors to ensure that necessary changes are being made in these departments. senator sessions, you once wrote that, and i quote, consent decrees have a profound effect on our legal system as they constitute an end run around the democratic process, end quote. currently more than 20 police departments around the country are engaged in consent decrees with the justice department. in maryland, baltimore mayor pugh said monday she expects her city to finalize a consent decree with the justice department this week as noted in the baltimore sun. my question is, will you commit to maintaining and enforcing the consent decrees that the justice department has negotiated during this administration?
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>> those decrees remain in force until and if they are changed and they would be enforced. a consent decree itself is not necessarily a bad thing. could be a legitimate decision. there can be circumstances in which police departments are subject to a lawsuit which is what starts this process, ultimately ending in a consent decree. but i think there's concern that good police officers and good departments can be sued by the department of justice when you just have individuals within a department who have done wrong, and those individuals need to be prosecuted, and these lawsuits undermine the respect for police officers and create an impression that the entire department is not doing their work consistent with fidelity to
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law and fairness, and we need to be careful before we do that. so what i would say to you, because of filing a lawsuit against a police department has ramifications, sometimes beyond what a lot of people think, and it can impact morale of the officers, it can impact and affect the view of citizens to their police department and i just think that caution is always required in these cases. >> senator sessions -- >> i wouldn't prejudge a specific case. >> i understand that. but showing of a pattern of practice needs to be shown so these are not just a rogue police officer doing something that would be deemed unconstitutional. so are you saying that with regard to negotiated consent decrees that you will revisit these consent decrees and perhaps give police departments a second bite at the apple so that they can undo some of the requirements on them? >> well, presumably the
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department of justice under the holder/lynch leadership always would be expecting to end these decrees at some point. so i just wouldn't commit that there would never be any changes in them, and if departments have complied or reached other developments that could justify the withdrawal or modification of the consent decree, of course i would do that. >> well, usually consent decrees require when they end, it's because they have complied with the provisions of the consent decree. so i'm just trying to get a simple answer. i will give you a simple answer. it's a difficult thing for a city to be sued by the department of justice and to be told that your police department is systematically failing to serve the people of the state or the city, and so that's an august responsibility of the attorney general and the
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department of justice. so they often feel forced to agree to a consent decree just to remove that stigma and sometimes there are difficulties there. i just think we need to be careful and respectful of the -- >> i understand that. as to the consent decrees that were negotiated with both parties in full faith to do what's appropriate, that you would leave those intact unless there is some exigent or extraordinary circumstances. of course, going forward as attorney general, you can enter into whatever consent decrees you deem appropriately -- appropriate. my question really is the existing consent decrees which took a lot to negotiate, by the way, and it's not the vast majority of police departments in this country. it's 20. >> you can answer that if you want to, then we will move on. >> i understand what you're saying and one of the impacts of a consent decree is it does
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require judicial approval of any alteration in it, and that raises pros and cons. >> senator kennedy? >> thank you, mr. chairman. senator, could you tell the committee a little bit more about what it was like to be u.s. attorney? what was your management style, did you enjoy it, how was it compared to serving in the state government as a state attorney general? >> i loved being u.s. attorney. i hate to say it was -- we all -- almost everybody that's held the job said it's the greatest job. if you like law enforcement and trying to protect citizens and prosecuting criminals, it was just a fabulous job. we had great assistants and i loved it and our team did.
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it's camelot days for me. so i did feel that. only had two years as attorney general. we had this monumental deficit when i got elected and we had to lay off a third of the office because we didn't have money to pay the electric bill and it was just one thing after another and then i was running for the senate so i didn't get to enjoy that job, but the united states attorney's job was a really fabulous experience and i believe in the course of it, i worked with fbi, dea, u.s. customs, marshals service, all the federal agencies, atf, irs, postal service and their inspectors, and you get to know their cultures and their crimes that they investigate, the officers and what motivates them and how a little praise and affirmation is so important for them. they get the same salary, you know. if they are not being appreciated they feel demoeande
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then morale can decline. that kind of experience was wonderful and i do think it would help me be a better attorney general. >> i made up my mind. i yield back my time. i hope you will be a raging voice of common sense at the department of justice, senator. >> well, thank you. >> before you take a break, i hope that the people, all the people that still want to do a third round will come back in about maybe 15 minutes or a little less. that is okay? >> yes. >> we stand in recess for 15 minutes. or so.
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>> ten days to the inauguration of donald trump as president and the u.s. senate fulfilling its constitutional duty in advise and consent, the first of his nominees, senator jeff sessions of alabama, nominated to be attorney general with a hearing that got under way today at 9:30 eastern and still has a little way to go, according to senator grassley, the chair of the judiciary committee. they will probably be back by about 6:15 eastern or so. we may get a third round of questions from